WTO hikes trade forecasts, but warns on pandemic

The World Trade Organization on Monday (October 4) lifted its outlook for global commerce.

It now expects merchandise trade to grow by 10.8% this year, up more than a quarter on earlier predictions.

Last year, in the depths of global lockdowns, trade shrank by over 5%.

Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala spoke at a news conference in Geneva:

"With two-quarters of trade and GDP data for 2021 already in hand, it has become clear that the pace of trade recovery is closer to an optimistic scenario from March."

But the world trade body also had two warnings.

It said any resurgence in virus cases could yet crimp a rebound.

And it said recovery was moving at two speeds, in regions with and without good resources for tackling the health crisis.

The WTO says exports from Asia will be higher than pre-crisis levels this year, with Europe and North America also essentially recovered.

But it says Africa and the Middle East remain yet to bounce back.

The forecasts relate purely to trade in goods.

For services, like IT and passenger transport, the WTO says a recovery to pre-crisis levels remains some way off.

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